Jesus & the Third Option
Have you ever panicked with a big decision and found yourself asking God: Yes or no? I call this the “Red Light/Green Light” dilemma. Should I take this job? Should I move into this apartment or house? Is this person the right spouse for me? Generally speaking, there’s a lot of self-argument, listing pros and cons. Often the question for God is about: What will make me most happy?
I find this doesn’t work. Why? Because the situation is more complicated than this. There are motives and desires that need to be sorted out. Even more so, however, God works these things out in conversations with us.
But you wanted a quick answer? Forget it. God is relentlessly relational. Nothing in life works well outside of a conversational relationship with God. We were built for it. It’s not a chore; it’s not a “family meeting” or a court appearance. It’s sitting on the park bench with Jesus going over what’s really going on inside us so that God can help us form our deepest desires and meet them.
When I say it’s more complicated than Yes or No, here’s what I mean. So my friend seems to be withdrawing from me. I guess that she is now annoyed with me about something, because I’m sure I’m not winsome 100% of the time. So I go to God, asking if I should say this and ask her if this is true. As I talk with God about this, I see her in my mind and it occurs to me that she is withdrawing within herself. She may or may not be annoyed with me, but my friend is needy in some way. Then the “answer” is obvious: love my friend. Reach out to her in a non-intrusive, warm way. She loves to be playful—I can do that.
I call this the “third option.” Jesus did this when pressed about whether to give to God or to Caesar. It wasn’t either/or. It was both/and. It’s not yes or no; it’s something else I hadn’t thought of. Not A or B, but XXX.
Without conversation with God, I would rush into things and mess them up. This “third option is generally wiser and more true to who everyone is. “God’s speaking to us is intended to develop into an intelligent, freely cooperative relationship between mature people who love each other with the richness of genuine agape love. We must therefore make it our primary goal not just to hear the voice of God, but to be mature people in a loving relationship with him. Only in this way will we hear him rightly” (Hearing God, 39).
As we learn to do this, we find praying much easier—and much more interesting (and even fun!). Again, DW: “People who understand and warmly desire to hear God’s voice will want to hear it when life is uneventful just as much as when they are facing trouble or big decisions” (HG, 258).
Grace and peace,